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Two mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases, MKK1 and MEK2, are involved in wounding- and specialist lepidopteran herbivore Manduca sexta-induced responses in Nicotiana attenuata

Heinrich, Maria, Baldwin, Ian T., Wu, Jianqiang
Journal of experimental botany 2011 v.62 no.12 pp. 4355-4365
Manduca sexta, Nicotiana, ethylene, gene silencing, genes, herbivores, jasmonic acid, mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphorylation, proteins, secondary metabolites, secretion, trypsin inhibitors, wild plants
In a wild tobacco plant, Nicotiana attenuata, two mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), salicylic acid-induced protein kinase (SIPK) and wound-induced protein kinase (WIPK), play central roles in modulating herbivory-induced phytohormone and anti-herbivore secondary metabolites. However, the identities of their upstream MAPK kinases (MAPKKs) were elusive. Ectopic overexpression studies in N. benthamiana and N. tabacum suggested that two MAPKKs, MKK1 and MEK2, may activate SIPK and WIPK. The homologues of MKK1 and MEK2 were cloned in N. attenuata (NaMKK1 and NaMEK2) and a virus-induced gene silencing approach was used to knock-down the transcript levels of these MAPKK genes. Plants silenced in NaMKK1 and NaMEK2 were treated with wounding or simulated herbivory by applying the oral secretions of the specialist herbivore Manduca sexta to wounds. MAPK activity assay indicated that after wounding or simulated herbivory NaMKK1 is not required for the phosphorylation of NaSIPK and NaWIPK; in contrast, NaMEK2 and other unknown MAPKKs are important for simulated herbivory-elicited activation of NaSIPK and NaWIPK, and after wounding NaMEK2 probably does not activate NaWIPK but plays a minor role in activating NaSIPK. Consistently, NaMEK2 and certain other MAPKKs, but not NaMKK1, are needed for wounding- and simulated herbivory-elicited accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA), JA-isoleucine, and ethylene. Furthermore, both NaMEK2 and NaMKK1 regulate the levels of trypsin proteinase inhibitors. The findings underscore the complexity of MAPK signalling pathways and highlight the importance of MAPKKs in regulating wounding- and herbivory-induced responses.